Last Update: 02/24/16
Last fall, Osceola County Clerk of the Court joined other Florida officials in warning the public at large that con artists were at work in the State of Florida, taking advantage of the Foreclosure Fraud mess by filing “wild deeds” in the real property records. (Check out the Osceola Clerk’s list of wild deed filings from October 2011.)
What is a wild deed?
A “wild deed” is a phoney, fake document filed in the public records and used by the evildoer to cloud title to real estate as he or she claims a legal right in property belonging to someone else (usually as part of the closing procedure in a sales transaction).
It’s not the job of the County Clerk to judge documents: their job is to insure that documents are properly filed and that land records are kept safe. Making legal decisions on what documents are okay and what documents are not valid – that’s the job of a judge and jury. Meet the requirements (properly signed, etc.) and pay the fee, and you can file the document even if the clerk is extremely suspicious that you are up to no good.
So, wild deeds DO get filed in the real estate records. Florida law does not prevent this.
The Case of Evildoing Jacob Franz:Dyck – Famous Florida Wild Deed Con Artist
Why do evildoers do this? For money. Consider the notorious case of “Jacob Franz: Dyck.” (We’ve put the name in quotations to clarify that this is how this guy signs his name — with a colon between the last two parts of his full name.)
Jacob Franz: Dyck has spent some time behind bars in the past, and he’s also made a living as a dentist here in Florida. This rogue dentist has also made a name for himself in real estate circles for his scheme of researching Florida real estate facing foreclosure actions and going down to the courthouse and filing bad paper (“wild deeds”) in the land records – fake deeds that purported to give him an interest in the home or land tract.
Result? To get Dyck to go away, someone had to pay him some sort of nuisance fee. Reports are he was collecting around $2500/transaction. Not bad, if he did two or more a month, right? He’s said to have filed over 100 wild deeds in Osceola County alone.
Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:
Wild deeds, sometimes known as “stray deeds” or “interloping deeds” (terms used in Florida case law precedent), are not the result of the recent Foreclosure Fraud mess – the idea of muddying the waters of real estate title to get some fast cash has been tried long before all the robosigning, missing loan documentation, and other recent Foreclosure antics hit our state.
Still, the reality remains that filing a document in the real estate property records for a particular tract of land means that someone has to check out the claim that is made via that paperwork. Until the matter is resolved, there is a cloud on the title.
Sometimes the wild deed or stray deed or interloping deed isn’t the result of wrongdoing. Sometimes, it’s just a mistake. A typographical error in the document, particularly the legal description of the property. Maybe it’s a claim to the land that isn’t valid any longer because the debt has been paid.
Whatever the reason, the chain of title must be cleaned of this problem before the owner can move forward with clear title. How is this done?
If there is a simple mistake, then a corrective deed can be issued by the Wild Deed’s grantee. What if an evildoer is involved? Then the wild deed matter may need a Florida Quiet Title Action, a lawsuit filed in the local court which results in a judgment, signed by the judge, that resolves the title question.
A good piece of advice when you and your family are purchasing or selling your family home in one of the biggest transactions of your life is to at least talk with a Florida real estate lawyer. Getting someone to review all of the paperwork including the all important promissory note, isn’t as costly as most of us think it is. And it’s always a lot cheaper than paying to fix a problem after a closing occurs. Most real estate lawyers, like Larry Tolchinsky, offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.
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